It's five o'clock somewhere.
Atmosphere: The restaurant and this entire new wing in Pudong Airport (near gate G###) was newly constructed and renovated. Squeaky clean glass tunnel on the way out of the train platform and sparkling marble floor did not give me the impression of a classy and sophisticated airport. It felt more like a horse racing course to me because everybody was running for the gate or something else. It looked like there was a black Friday sale except I never figured out what was going on. At least it was peaceful inside the restaurant. On the side note, the design of the bowl was very creative but I found it borderline disturbing with a few ants "crawling" in my bowl.
Food: I was usually the last person checking in because there was nothing to do or eat in Pudong Airport. There were two shops selling instant beef noodle soup, a HK cafe and literally nothing else except for Starbucks. This restaurant gave me a new reason to arrive at the airport earlier. The dim sum options were very limited but everything was good.
We ordered steamed pork ribs which were covered by a very generous amount of deep fried garlic. It had the perfect ratio of fat, meat and bone which made it tender, juicy but a bit chewy. The deep fried garlic soaked up the meat juice and was heavenly. The har gaos (shrimp dumplings) lined up in a very orderly fashion with nice little folds on each of them. I adore the perfectly steamed skin wrapping up diced shrimp, minced pork and mini bamboo shoot.
We also got pumpkin congee and fried spring roll. I literally burnt my tongue and lips with the freshly fried spring roll. There were a lot vegetable slices in the spring roll so it did not feel heavy and oily at all. We both find the pumpkin congee a bit too sweet but I still finished it because I had to catch a long flight after.
We eventually packed the chrysanthemum tea to go and it is a better option than Starbucks coffee if you plan to have a good sleep on the plane.
Service: The shop was very small and busy but luckily the staff was always ready to help with refilling tea and giving us condiments and napkins. It was a very satisfactory experience.
Atmosphere: I was so butt-broken by the sunken sofa. It was like being heartbroken because of your lover’s false promises or dreams that could never be fulfilled. The dark leather sofa looked promising and I fell for it, literally. I gave the sofa my entire butt (not my heart, luckily) and I whole-butt-edly regretted it. The restaurant has been around for only one year. How can the sofa be this sagging?
Food: Hot pot shops serving hand-cut beef slices tend to have their plates vertically placed as a show of faith of the freshness of the meat. I never cast half a doubt on the freshness since there was a big glass room with two chefs cutting meat. However, there was a big problem when the beef slices came in fragments. I thought I was peeling two slices of beef off the vertically positioned plate but little did I know there were also two mini strings of meat hidden right behind them. The bigger beef slices which were in the safe custody of my chopsticks went straight into the hot pot but the mini burgundy-red strings of beef decided to embrace the pull of gravity and fell on the pristine white table cloth. This triggered an almost ethical debate inside my head. Should I put them back into the hot pot or should I not? The table cloth seemed clean but maybe it was dusty and full of chemicals. Wasn’t there a 5 second rule for food? It should be fine because I was about to cook them with 100C boiling water. Or maybe I should just cover up this pure embarrassment. After much deliberation, I laid down a pall (actually a tissue paper) on the lost members of the beef family but by now the meat inside the hotpot was beyond overcooked and basically became beef jerky. As I picked up my spirits and peeled two more slices of beef off the plate, the exact same thing happened. Only this time, I could almost hear the beef strings on the table laugh at me and say: you suck.
At this point I almost lost all my faith in the freshly cut beef “fragments” but I was glad I ordered some frozen beef which came in a wooden box with dry ice smoke and a little sparkly light. Despite the fancy layout, I did not find the dish photo worthy at all because the beef slices had a thick strip of fat and a thick strip of lean meat without any sort of marbling. It was not like this when I visited the store just a few months ago. It tasted fine but I was expecting a better cut of meat at this price.
We also got shrimp paste, tofu and winter melon on the side, the quality was standard but the proportion was disappointingly small.
Service: Flagging down a waiter was harder than getting a taxi on a rainy night. There could be three waiters tidying up a table right next to you and several others walking up and down the corridor but nobody would ever notice you waiving at them. I definitely toned up some muscles on my arms/shoulders after this meal.
I would recommend this place only if you want to put your patience to the test. But for now, I need some meditation.
Atmosphere: This bistro was conveniently situated right in the middle of JingAn temple in Kerry Center. It was a bit hard to find as I strolled from the south side to the north side of the mall but the restaurant was actually outside of the mall. The bistro was a bit crowded and noisy but it was still acceptable once we squished into our little cozy corner.
Food: The bistro mainly served a wide variety of drinking snacks which were almost like tapas, and a handful of main dishes including the infamous baked stuffed chicken and a few pasta selections. To start, we ordered a few drinking snacks such as sautéed sausage, sautéed mushroom, sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon, baked eggplant with cheese and mussels in white wine reduction. The sausage, mushroom and Brussels sprouts were really average but surprisingly I think the eggplant was charcoal grilled before it was baked in the dish with cheese because there was a pungent smokey flavor to it. The mussels were very delicate as there were tiny pieces of garlic and herbs hidden inside the folds of the mussels. The white wine reduction caught all the essence of the mussels and I almost needed a piece of baguette to dip into the sauce.
For a boost of protein we ordered sautéed squid, ossobuco and the baked stuffed chicken. The sautéed squid was the perfect drinking snack since it was very well seasoned and the squid was so fresh that it was almost crispy. The ossobuco was such a good deal. I had never had ossobuco this cheap before and I was glad the quality was not compromised simply because of the low price point. It was everything an ossobuco needed to be-- chunks of meat falling off the bone with a melting bone marrow in the middle. I realized it was not a popular item in the bistro and I was sure the ossobuco had been sitting in the stewing pot for the entire day.
The highlight of the night was the most popular item in the bistro. According to my brief observation, almost 70% of the customers of the night ordered it. The chicken skin was so crispy as the chicken was baked to perfection and the chicken fat was melted in the long baking process. The chicken skin almost fell off the chicken as I bit into it. Even though the chicken was baked for such a long time, it remained very juicy. The chicken was stuffed with risotto and the risotto was so flavor packed as it absorbed all the oil and juices from the chicken.
We ended the night with caramel cream puff, which was yet another highly popular item in the bistro and it was worth every ounce of fat it brought to my belly. The puff was not saggy from the cream at all and the caramel was crackling was I sinked my teeth in it. It was like biting into a thin but hard layer of candy.
Service: We were scrambled into the corner at first and it was a bit hard for us to catch the attention of the waiters but in general we did not have any problem in getting what we needed. As the bistro cleared out a bit, the waiters were very diligent in refilling water too.
Atmosphere: The restaurant was perfect for a romantic date night and social dining as it was lighted with flickering yellow candle flame instead of big harsh light bulbs. The super high ceiling and the carpeted floor gave a very classy touch to the restaurant. Besides, there were a lot of Italian ornaments such as the Moka pot tower by the bar and the mega Campari bottle which reminded me of my midsummer night dream in Italy.
Food: The food was so mesmerizing that I went back three times in a month because I just could not get enough of it. We had insalata caprese, octopus salad and a plate of fried seafood to start. When I was in Capri this summer, I had insalata caprese everyday and I also visited a buffalo mozzarella factory in Caiazzo so I knew how hard it was to import quality and fresh buffalo mozzarella into China. The buffalo mozzarella did not fail me one single bit, just as I cut it open, it was oozing buffalo milk. The cheese curd was very elastic as it gave me an extra bite before it unleashed buffalo milk in my mouth. It was my first time seeing the whole uncut mozzarella served on a plate. It was absolutely photogenic as it looked like a giant shining pearl on the table but it would be easier for us to eat if the cheese ball was sliced ahead of time. The tomato slices in the salad were nevertheless very fresh and of top quality but they were so small I would almost call them cherry tomatoes. The only comment I had on the salad is the inadequacy of fresh basil leaves or basil reduction. An Italian chef once told me insalata caprese should have an equal significance of the the three colorful ingredients just like an Italian flag.
The warm octopus salad was much desired for the autumn weather as it was charcoal grilled and smoked to perfection while it remained tender and slightly chewy. The mashed potato was magically creamy. For a few moments I thought that was potato flavored whipped cream instead. There were also some croutons on top to add a crisp to the bite and some pickles to balance out the smokiness of the octopus legs.
On the other hand, I would not recommend the fritto misto (fried seafood) as the shrimps were not fresh and the shells tasted almost fishy. It tasted as if they were using those forever frozen mixed seafood but I was expecting more at this price.
For the main dish we got a 1.2kg angus T bone steak to share and it was to die for. We loved our steak medium rare and it was not overcooked or under cooked at all. There must be a very stringent control of temperature, cooking time and method. I absolutely adored how the surface of the steak was crispy as I was tempted to bite right into the steak instead of cutting it into smaller pieces.
Besides, we ordered a duck ragu pappardelle and an ossobuco with risotto. Nothing beats freshly made pasta with stewed meat. Everything was perfect except that the portion was just a little bit too small to satisfy my carbohydrate cravings. The juices of the duck ragu was thick enough to linger on the pappardelle and the little diced duck meat would often be trapped in the rolled up pasta to give the best power bite of the dish.
Til this date I am still reminiscing about the ossobuco, especially the bone marrow in the middle. The meat was literally falling off the bone, it was a salty version of floss candy. No chewing was required as it melted in my mouth. The saltiness and oiliness of the ossobuco was the perfect match with the hearty and creamy risotto. The dish was surprisingly filling and I think it was best to share it with friends.
A slight delight on the side was the zucchini. It was a thick cross-section cut of a zucchini. I had never seen a zucchini served like this before. More importantly, it was adequately seasoned and sautéed.
We had a tiramisu and a Mont Blanc for dessert. The tiramisu was standard but the Mont Blanc was a surprise as there was ice cream inside the chestnut purée!
Service: The service was impersonal. The restaurant was inside of a hotel called the Middle House so there was a doorman holding an umbrella and opening the door for me the moment I got off my car. There were two staff constantly stationed at the front door to handle bookings and seatings. At the dining table, there was another flight of staff serving water and bread, giving you the menu and answering questions on the daily specials. We ordered a lot of wine and there was a waiter who was constantly around to refill my wine.
Atmosphere: There was a massive dry age cabin in the middle of the restaurant with cuts of steaks waltzing round it. Nothing could go wrong with a show case of steaks of considerable virtuosity. There was also a well equipped bar with a nicely lit display of bottles but sadly it was pretty empty.
Food: We ordered an USDA dry aged rib eye steak and a beef brisket burger to share. Before frying the steak, the waiter brought the cut of steak on a big marble stone plate and asked if we liked the cut. It was such a personal experience. The steak was not very thick and I believed it made it even harder not to overcook the steak since I liked my steak medium rare and nothing more than that. I reckoned it was the ultimate test of the chef's skills and they nailed it in making the perfect steak. The steak was well seasoned with a generous amount of pink rock salt and freshly grounded pepper too. Since the steak was dry aged, there was a remarkable depth of beefy flavor and tenderness in it. The flavor did not just go away as I swallowed the steak, it lingered onto my breath and it remained there to give you an aftertaste until I sipped some red wine or water. There was also some baked potato and tomato on the side which were excellent in balancing off the oiliness of the steak.
The beef brisket burger was a bomb. I have never found beef brisket burgers this good in Shanghai and I was so glad I finally found a quality fix so close to home and work, and at a reasonable price as well. The beef brisket was loaded with juices and barbecue sauce. It went hand in hand with the caramelized onion on top and the chopped lettuce at the bottom. The bun was toasted just right and there was a trace of salt on the plate in case you want an extra punch of flavors.
The burger came with some thickly cut fries but I didn't know about it ahead of time so I ordered an extra side of thinly cut fries. Both of them were excellent and were scotching hot and fresh when they were served.
Service: The service was impeccable and impersonal. The waiters were very attentive and detail oriented as to understanding the needs of customers. They knew when to bring napkins and ketchup on their own initiative. They knew that we were sharing the steak and burger so they offered to cut everything into halves. It was very thoughtful of them.
Atmosphere: There was a bar area on the ground floor and a dining area upstairs on the second floor. I visited the restaurant at about 10pm on a weekday so it was pretty quiet. There were a lot of evil eye drawings and ornaments to remind me of the Turkish origin of the restaurant. I found it really hard to find late night quality food in Shanghai. When I found this place in a cold winter late night, it was like a shining gem in the desert.
Food: We ordered lentil soup and lamb soup to warm up our stomachs. It was all that I could ask for in a freezing and rainy night like this. The lentil soups was really hearty and earthy. The lentils were completely molten into the soup. The lamb soup was surprisingly white in color but it came with a pungent lamb flavor. It warmed me up instantly as It had some little dices of lamb meat to satisfy my instant cravings.
We also got some hummus with eggplants which were off the menu. It came with a basket of bread and pita which was pillow soft and fresh. The hummus was creamy and smooth. It was very nutty and a bit garlicky. There was also a red hummus which was loaded with roasted sweet red pepper and granulated chickpea. It was a delightful variation to the original flavor. The eggplants were very smokey and packed with herbs. I love how the skin of the eggplants was peeled off as it sometimes had a burnt and bitter flavor and the dark purple color was not very attractive as well.
Besides, we ordered beyti kebabi which was mixed lamb and beef minced meat skewer rolled in lavash bread with cheese, pistachio and yoghurt. First and foremost, this dish was the most photogenic of all. The presentation of the dish was simply mesmerizing with the a drizzle of yoghurt here and a dash of sauce there. Besides, the cuts of the kebab rolled out like the feathers of a peacock. The lavash bread absorbed all the sauce, yoghurt and meat juice but it held on tight to the skewer and was not saggy at all. There was also a perfect blend of minced beef and lamb in the skewer since I could taste the both meat without any one of them overpowering another. A little surprise of this dish is the puddle of rice in the middle as it had extra herbs on it. It was almost like the basmati rice with loads of herbs pods you get in Indian restaurants.
Service: We were the only customer when we got there so we have a troop of waiters at our disposal. They were very kind to recommend items which was off the menu.
This restaurant was straight up dreamy. It was not modern, fancy nor luxurious. It was Alice in Wonderland kind of dreamy. I felt like there was a rainbow over my head and a few fairies throwing flower petals here and there the entire time I was eating.
This restaurant closed a bit early (8pm) and it was very full, we were really lucky to have a table without reservation. The service was really fast because almost everybody ordered pretty much the same dishes. We came here for the truffle fried rice with steak and egg and it was naturally a no-brainer to order the set on dianping because the fried rice was 158 and the crispy chicken was 128. We might as well add 42 for an extra salad, fries, drinks and dessert. I think it was a pretty good deal.
The drinks were the first to come. We ordered strawberry bubble and peach tea. The strawberry bubble was naturally flavored and colored by strawberry puree. It was a brilliant idea because I always feel intoxicated when I drink soft drinks. I only knew to add lemon and lime to my soda water but I never thought about strawberry puree before! I absolutely loved the strawberry bubble and my boyfriend said his peach tea was excellent as well. It was some really strong opinion coming from a guy who thinks his drinks are too sweet 90% of the time.
The salad came with a butterfly on top of it and a lot of colorful garnishment surrounding it. I found fruits and vegetables in the color of orange, blue, red, purple and green. How delightful was that! The salad was not just another salad you found in a convenience store. The dressing mysteriously tasted like bacon. I didn’t know how it worked. I tasted the bacon but I didn’t see it and feel its oiliness. Maybe it was magic!
The fried rice came in a mini wok on a wooden plate. It would be nice if the mini wok would stop spinning around but it was yet another very photogenic dish. I personally think the fried rice was a bit too salty and wet but my boyfriend loved it. The steak was so tender and flavorful. The half cooked egg was the key as we mixed it in with the rice, steak, truffle and mushroom because it holds everything together with its gooey yolk.
My boyfriend loves sweet potato fries and I love normal fries. In this restaurant, we didn’t even need to think about which one to choose because there were both options in the same serving. Oops did I mention it came in a unicorn container and there was even pink rock salt. Yes, it was not just sea salt or rock salt. It was PINK rock salt. How adorable was that!
It was not the end of the dreaminess until we had the chicken. I was amused to see some hydrangea petals on the chicken. Oh, that’s my favorite flower! Whoever did this must be some fairies from heaven. It looked like the chicken thighs were wearing a flower crown. The chicken thigh itself was thick but tender and juicy. The restaurant called it the benben sauce but it is actually peppery, sweet and salty. I loved it but the serving was so big we couldn’t finish everything.
Just when we were about to leave, the waiter gave us two scoops of ice-cream. Look at that container with marble prints. We had sesame and chocolate ice-cream and both of them were excellent.
A set for 2: 328
Atmosphere: There was a brunch hot spot on WuKang Road called Stack, which was famous for its photo-worthy breakfast board and fluffy pancakes. It closed a few months ago and it was rumored that this restaurant hidden in the underground floor of BFC was a spin-off of Stack. I came here to see if this new branch could pass my taste test.
This restaurant was much harder to find without the former glory of the old shop. There was definitely no finely dressed up girls posing in front of the store but there was a new sense of tranquility. Stack was the kind of place I always felt bad staying just a bit longer to enjoy my coffee and have a good chat with my friends because there were so many people queuing up all the time, it was such a hectic restaurant. However, Apetite quietly sat in the corner of the underground floor of BFC. Aside from lunch time rush hour, almost all the sofas in the entire restaurant were mine to lounge on!
Food: I ordered the signature tiramisu pancakes, a creamy mushroom soup and fish and chips to share with my friend. The pancakes were even better than before! I remembered the pancakes were not as fluffy and jiggly. The wait time was significantly shorter as well, probably because I was the only customer there in the late afternoon. The cream was so dense but airy that the pancakes did not absorb it and become saggy. The waitress was kind enough to remind us that the coffee syrup might be a little bitter if we pour too much of that over the pancakes. It was the perfect afternoon snack to share with your lady friend in the afternoon. Share the pancakes and the calories!
The mushroom soup was complimentary with the fish and chips set and it warmed me up from within. It looked absolutely adorable and colorful with a dash of cream, a few drizzle of oil, a sprinkle of herbs and tiny pieces of croutons. It was really thick and creamy with super soft and half molten granular mushroom. The only thing was that it was such a small serving, but it was complimentary so I could not complain too much.
The fish and chips were massive, I was so glad I was sharing it with my friend or I would be greased up for the entire afternoon. The waitress said the fish was beer battered but the texture of the fry dough was more like a Japanese cutlet. I liked it just as much. It was all juicy and steaming hot inside that I burned my tongue. I felt like the tartar sauce was not tangy enough, it would be nice if there were more pickles but my friend said she liked it that way.
In the end we ordered two cups of coffee and spent the entire afternoon chatting, lounging and taking photos. Everything is better in this new shop, but without the crowd. I can totally see myself coming back here in a lazy afternoon.
Service: Sometimes girls have difficulty choosing what to eat but thankfully the waitor was very patient in giving recommendations and taking orders. They were also highly attentive because I felt like they were always refilling my water.
After living among the hustle and bustle in Jingan for 2 years, this was the first time ever that I saw this restaurant. Phipps Steakhouse was located on the second floor of a bakery and the sign for the restaurant was usually covered by streams of pedestrians. There was a bigger sign on the window visible only to pedestrians across the street. Just follow the map or call the restaurant for directions because it was really worth the hunt.
Thanks to the chandeliers, dark brown leather seats and the full bar, this restaurant reminded me of a restaurant in the Grand Central Terminal in New York City. This restaurant is a classic New York Style steakhouse serving prime cuts dry-aged in their own aging box and a wide variety of side dishes and wine selection.
We ordered a Caesar salad and a pumpkin soup to start. I had never had anchovies in a Caesar salad and it surprisingly worked out perfectly with the crispy fresh iceberg lettuce. The saltiness of the anchovies actually supplemented the crispiness of the bacon as it added tastes of the ocean to the salad. The pumpkin soup was so creamy and hearty for the sweater weather and the little pine nuts and creamy hearts garnishing the soup was just too cute.
For the main dish, we ordered porterhouse steak for two. It was served on a sizzling hot plate with bubbling oil (I suspect that’s actually melted boiling cow fat). The waitress carefully tilted the hot plate so the steak was not soaked and cooked in the oil for too long. We had our steak medium and it was thick, juicy and superb. Watch out if you are a slow eater because the hot plate was secretly cooking the steak when I took my time to enjoy the steak. By the time I had my last piece of steak, it was almost well-done.
We also had some fries on the side and it was freshly fried just for us. I liked dipping my fries in the bubbling oil on the hot plate for some extra flavor. The fries soaked up the oil while retaining the crispiness. It was definitely worth the extra calories. We also ordered two glasses of house wine on the recommendation of the waitress. She knew the wine menu inside out and it worked out very well.
When I went on dianping, I realized they raised the price of the porterhouse steak by 27% in just two years’ time. It was $629 in 2017 but it was $799 in 2019. Given the prime location, quiet ambience, classic decoration and quality food and service, I still think this restaurant is worth the price tag. In conclusion, everything was exceptional and I totally see myself coming back here from time to time. Too bad I didn’t see this restaurant sooner. Better support the business before they raise the price again!
Pumpkin Soup: 39
Caesar Salad: 65
Porterhouse Steak for Two (40oz): 799
French Fries: 49
House Wine: 68
Atmosphere: The House of Lilies is situated at the top floor of a big shopping compound on Century Avenue. It is one of my two favorite Dim Sum restaurants in Shanghai. This restaurant has a really high ceiling and a panoramic window facing the east to offer broad day light to the entire venue. The restaurant lives up to its name by placing a big and fresh white lily bouquet right at the center of the restaurant. This is how every Sunday morning should be spent, dim sum with a cup of warm tea by the window and a nicely trimmed bouquet exuding refreshing flowery scents in the air.
Food: Everything looked delicious in the menu and we ended up ordering a bit too much. First, I had my usual har gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings). The har gao had mini bamboo shoots in it to give the perfectly steamed dumplings another layer of chewy texture. The siu mai had an excellent ratio of minced pork, shrimp paste and diced shrimps. Unlike so many other places, the siu mai here was not too loosely wrapped and would not fall apart even though you bite into it. It was amazing how it still managed to be juicy, tender and solid at the same time.
After that, we ordered steamed pork ribs with chan chun fun (a kind of old style steamed rice roll which is hard to find even back in Hong Kong) and steamed peppery beef short ribs. The pork ribs were falling off the bones and had the right amount of fat and meat. The chan chun fun absorbed all the juices from the ribs and carried a few little flakes of garlic in between its folds. It tasted just like heaven. The steamed peppery beef short ribs had a lot of little flavor bombs (black peppercorns), which were large enough to avoid but grinded to small enough fragments to release all the flavors. I think the essence of the short ribs was the thin layer of tendons sticking to the bone as it gave the entire piece an almost crunchy feeling.
As per usual, after four kinds of dim sum it was almost time for us to carb it up with char siu (barbeque pork) cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) and fish congee. The cheung fun here tasted just like home, it had a special oily gloss to it and it was transparent and just a little bit chewy. The gooey fish congee surprised me with a few slices of grouper hidden at the bottom of the bowl. At this price, I never expected to have actual pieces of flaky grouper with a line of bright red skin on top of it and I never thought the quality of the congee could be this good.
As an attempt to finish the meal (you will know very soon that it was not the end), we ordered steamed milk pudding to share. It was basically milk in the form of a jiggly pudding. The only thing is the restaurant only offered cold pudding and the core of the pudding was freezing cold. It made me think maybe they made it the night before and froze the pudding overnight.
Just before we left, my boyfriend decided to have a final look at the menu to see what kind of food options this restaurant got to offer for our next visit. We saw the beef stew with turnip and tendon in chu hau sauce and we gave each other a silent stare and nodded our head slowly. The next thing I knew, my boyfriend was flagging down a waitress to place the order. The beef stew was so hearty. It had chunky but melting beef brisket and beef tendons. The turnips were cooked to perfection in the sauce. It was more sweet than salty as the turnip itself was very juicy and it diluted the saltiness of the beef sauce in the cooking process. I almost ordered a bowl of rice if my boyfriend did not order fried dumplings secretly. I only had one bite of the dumpling as I was too full and I found it a little greasy; however, my boyfriend gobbled all of them at ease.
Service: The service was really on point. There was a massive troop of waitors and waitresses ready to add hot water to your tea pot and take your orders.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.